Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State government hopes to clear the ground for the commencement of work on the Smart City project in Kochi within a matter of one month from now, says the Chief Minister’s office.

The Union government has already approved the State government’s recommendation for according Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status for 136 acres (55 hectares) of the land acquired for the project.

Another recommendation for giving the status to 100 acres (40.47 hectares) more is pending with the Union government.

Rehabilitation

Forty-eight families who were residing on the acquired land have been rehabilitated to a nearby area to their satisfaction.

One person, who was having a plot in the area, but had not participated in the rehabilitation scheme since he was domiciled elsewhere during its implementation, has filed a case in the Kerala High Court seeking the compensation package extended to the others. Since the government has no intention to deny him his due, this minor hurdle is likely to be overcome without much delay, the Chief Minister’s office said.

Clear decision

And the next Cabinet meeting will see a decision lending clarity to the State government’s ideological stand on SEZs in general and also the SEZ status applicable to Smart City with reference to the agreement the government signed in May 2007 with the overseas promoters of the project.

Originally, the Smart City project was envisaged as a single SEZ spread over 246 acres of land. But a canal-like river, hardly a few feet wide, runs right through this land, breaking contiguity and dividing the stretch into plots of 136 acres, 100 acres and 10 acres.

Applicable norms

Since contiguity of the land and a stipulation on minimum acreage are among the norms applicable for SEZs, the State government opted to recommend the status through two proposals to the Union government, one covering an area of 136 acres and another 100 acres.

The 100-acre stretch now has a public road passing through it.

This road is now being bent round the plot. Work on re-routing the road is fast progressing, the Chief Minister’s office said.

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